'Lebanon probing collaborators on Israeli spy device'

Lebanese press report: "Expert technicians" installed alleged Israeli spy cameras; devices take pictures, tap phones.

By JPOST.COM STAFF,
December 17, 2010 10:14
2 minute read.
Alleged Israeli spy equipment found in Lebanon

Hebrew Spy Equipment 311. (photo credit: LAF Website)

 
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Lebanon is investigating whether collaborators helped Israel plant the 'spy devices' found on mountaintops earlier this week, Lebanese paper A-Nahar reported on Friday.

Lebanese paper As-Safir reported that the way the devices were installed proves that expert technicians cooperated with Israel.

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"The devices were transferred to the [Lebanese] Defense Ministry, where a special technical staff examined them," according to a Friday article. "The staff will examine how the system worked and what information and photos they broadcast" to Israel.

As-Safir explained that the devices photograph movement in the area, help the IAF find targets, and bug all the telephones nearby. The paper added that the devices' batteries showed that they were meant to be installed for a long period of time.

The Lebanese Armed Forces on Thursday released pictures of what it said were Hebrew markings on the espionage equipment it claimed to have uncovered . A photograph released by the LAF shows a sign saying “Mini Cloud” in Hebrew and “Beam Systems Israel LTD” in English.

Also on Thursday, Lebanese President Michel Suleiman lauded the cooperation between the Lebanese Armed Forces and Hizbullah that led to the discovery of the alleged Israeli spy equipment.



Israeli officials have made no comment on the claims, whose authenticity is unclear.

One of the long-range spy systems was reportedly discovered on Mount Sannine, which overlooks Beirut and the eastern Bekaa Valley, and the second was found on Mount Barouk, southeast of the capital, the army said in a statement, which credited Hizbullah with providing information that enabled the discoveries.

Meanwhile, Lebanese media reported that an explosion that rocked the city of Sidon on Wednesday night was caused by an Israeli bombing of one of its sea-based intelligence- gathering units. The IDF had issued a rare statement Wednesday night denying that it was involved in an operation near Sidon.

If reconnaissance equipment was discovered on the mountains, which have a clear view of the Beirut-Damascus Highway and the Bekaa Valley – a Hizbullah stronghold – it could mean that it was placed there to follow the smuggling of weaponry from Syria into Lebanon and possibly even designate potential targets.

If the equipment, which included cameras and laser designators, was planted by Israel, then one key question is when this was done. One possibility is that it was placed there during the Second Lebanon War in 2006, when thousands of IDF soldiers were operating inside Lebanon. Another possibility is that the equipment was placed there recently in covert operations.

The discovery of alleged Israeli spy equipment hidden in boulders deep inside Lebanon could constitute a significant blow to intelligence. Tellingly, however, the much-hyped claims about the finds are timed to bolster Hizbullah’s efforts to draw attention away from its troubles and to a common enemy – Israel.

For Hizbullah, the ostensible discovery of the equipment is significant since it helps divert attention from the imminent expected indictment of top Hizbullah operatives by the United Nations tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri.

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